Calif. fire chief buys 'closed due to staffing' banner to highlight funding problem
Calaveras County voters denied a tax increase last year that would have increased fire district funding
By Bill Carey
CALAVERAS COUNTY, Calif.— A California fire department placed a large "closed due to staffing" banner across the front of its firehouse last weekend to highlight its struggle to recruit and retain firefighters.
The Calaveras Consolidated Fire Protection District was forced to close, or brownout, one of its two firehouses due to a lack of firefighters, CBS News Sacramento reported.
"We're going to be browning out more. I decided to buy that sign, to put it upfront so that people understand the firehouse is closed and why it's closed," Fire Chief Rich Dickinson said.
The fire district has just 13 firefighters now. Dickinson said he has lost 40 firefighters over the last six years. Firefighters leave due to salary competition from San Francisco Bay Area fire departments.
"The staff that I have left, they're working a lot of hours," Dickinson said. "And at some point, there's a breaking point."
Dickinson is proposing a tax hike next year to help with the financial problems. Last year, Calaveras County voters denied a tax increase that would have increased fire district funding.